Wilco (The Brief Opinion)
I’ve been listening to Wilco (The Album) quite a bit lately. Now that it’s out in the world, I still don’t know how I feel about it. That’s a confusing place to be – both as a Wilco fan and as someone whose living comes, at least in part, from asserting my opinion about music.
First of all, I don’t like “Wilco (The Song).” I resign to the fact that a band called Wilco making an album called Wilco (The Album) may as well write “Wilco (The Song)” and make it track one. Because, go big or go home. I can admit, when you get past the gimmicky nature of its chorus, it’s a decently passable groove. Catchy, even. Still, more often than not, I desperately want to skip it but track two, “Deeper Down,” is not definitive enough to start an album. It’s dark and moody, almost mumbly and sad. It is, inherently, a second track intended to sulk quietly and thoughtfully in the shadow of its ludicrous, can’t-be-taken-seriously predecessor. Would I move anything up to the opening track on this album? No. So I grit my teeth through “Wilco (The Song)” and then happily move on.
The rest of the album is stacked mostly with tunes taken best one after the other – smart in a world where folks may be inclined to download only one or two songs. Tunes like “One Wing” and “Sonny Feeling” take me to some weird almost spacey place, with their self-aware lyrics, weird and sudden freakout guitar solos, and killer stuttering drums which eventually settle nicely into actual driving rhythms.
Then there’s “Country Disappeared,” wherein Tweedy’s pessimism feels almost leftover from the Bush era, which is to say untimely…
Wake up we’re here
It’s so much worse than we feared
There’s nothing left here
The country has disappeared
If the winter trees bleeding, leave red blood
The summer sweet dreaming, april blush
But none of that is ever gonna mean as much to me again.
It’s a funny assertion on the heels of “You Never Know,” which starts with:
Come on children, you’re acting like children
every generation thinks it’s the end of the world.
The hookiest part of the song is the tight harmonized repetition of “I don’t care anymore.” It is, in fact, easily my favorite tune on the record, because it moves on its own, with its prominent tambourine and piano, its background “oohs” and the fact that it lives in the tweeters. Despite its inherent movement, there’s almost no bass here, or I can’t find it. Maybe that’s because my speakers suck, or maybe it’s that this tune is just that deliberately upbeat. Lyrically, it’s a grumpy old man song, and yet I feel like dancing. See what I mean about the confusion?
Then there’s “Everlasting Everything” – its own little outpost of sadness and resignation, which spins around long enough to end around what sounds like a band of playfully spastic cyborg seagulls. What?
For all the confusion it stirs in me, Wilco (The Album) is nothing if not interesting. No doubt I’ll form twenty “solid” opinions on it as time goes by. For now, it does a solid job looping on my speakers. So, at least it’s not a throwaway album.